I hit rock bottom and I picked myself back up. That’s how I mostly start my story when I start to tell it. Of course, my story is a little bit longer than that. Growing up, most people would have described me as quite the happy child. I had a few friends, had some good and bad experiences, and never really had a lot of problems in school when it came to grades. Or so I thought. Thinking back, I now see a lot of holes that needed to be filled, however, those holes always stayed empty. I remember all too vividly how my parents told me they were getting divorced when I was five years old.
My mother sat at the kitchen table, crying, while my father stood about six feet away from her. I remember being told about what was going to happen and me asking myself if it was my fault and where I was going to go. Over time, I got used to the situation. Fast forward a few years and everything seemed to be going well, except for my grades in school. I was fourteen years old — in eighth grade — when I started questioning my sexuality. I remember getting bullied in my school over a rumor that said I liked girls, even though I wasn’t sure. I blocked it off and didn’t want to hear about it. Of course I denied it. My grades were bad enough that I had to repeat the eighth grade. By then, I had already been in therapy my mother arranged for me when I was thirteen. Nobody I knew had a therapist. To me, I was the only one in my environment who apparently ‘needed’ this. Now I know that even back then, I had depressive tendencies.
My mother sent me to a boarding school my second year in eighth grade. I was 15 by then. Even now I still don’t know if she did it because she couldn’t handle having me in the house anymore, because even then, I mostly wanted to be by myself. But even there, two hundred miles away from home, the cycle started again. Once again rumors came up that I heavily denied. However, this time around, I tried focusing on my grades — successfully in the end. I was sixteen and in ninth grade when I finally was ready to come out of the closet. I told myself ‘yes, I’m gay, and I don’t need anyone in my life who can’t accept me for who I really am’. And that’s how I went through the tenth and final grade until I graduated.
All this time, I had never really acknowledged that I indeed had depressive tendencies this whole time. However they first really came noticeably to the surface, noticeable, when my first real relationship ended after almost three years. I was nineteen at the time and I moved alone to a city I had only been to for a few days every now and then. I started working at a lawyer’s office, however, I didn’t take it seriously enough. I kept calling in sick and I remember wanting to hide in the deepest darkest corner there was. And after a while, that was exactly what I did. I got fired, I couldn’t afford the room I was living in anymore; I had to move back home to my mother.
Add a building up anxiety disorder to a depressive episode; and to that add pressure from everywhere in your environment and you get a mix that you do not manage to get out of on your own anymore. I got pressured into working at a hotel, something that has never been something I wanted to do. I lasted two months, then once again I crawled into the familiarity that was my deep, dark hole. I rarely left my room, not to mention the house, my sleep schedule was a mess and over the whole time until the beginning of this year, every day had been the same. I got up, maybe took a shower, I ate something, and I continued staying in the comfort zone that was my room. Over the span of the past few years, I had taken care of myself less and less, which slowly also had its affect on my weight. While I had never been someone who was completely skinny, over the time where I was down that far, I gained about 20kg (45lbs). I began fearing encounters with people I had met through the years of my life, which made me go out even less.
When I was at the lowest spot of my depression, the desire to move became less and less. A few friends of mine tried to contact me, and yet, I blocked them off. At some point, they would ask me if I would join them for anything and I told them I was busy. And in my mind, I knew it was a lie, since all I did was lie in bed all day and basically do nothing. Some people might think that depression means being sad all the time. For me, it was almost like a complete lack of emotion. I got told I didn’t care about anyone or anything, and yes, that was the truth. And while I wanted to feel bad for it, I couldn’t. I got vaguely suicidal, yet never enough that I would actually go through with it. However, I remember also not being completely opposed to the idea of suddenly stopping to exist. I remember some people not taking me seriously because yes, at some points I did laugh. I could watch the most adorable video of kittens on YouTube and I laughed and my mood lightened up. But as soon as I exited the video, I was out of that state again. I had no desire to change anything. I just didn’t care enough.
It was in June 2014 that my mother had me committed to a psychiatric hospital. However, back then I thought she was crazy. The whole time, I blamed her for giving me one of the worst experiences in my life thus far, even though now I know she only wanted to help me. After a week, I got out, and I packed my things and left the country. For two and a half months, I lived with a friend in England, for some reason thinking I was going to be able to build a life there from scratch. Just like that. And yet soon I realized, that there was indeed something wrong with me. After all these years pretending I was okay, I had started to believe it myself, and finally, it hit me like a ton of bricks that, yes, I was suffering from depression.
I flew back home to Germany, knowing I needed and wanted to change something. I started taking antidepressants and about half a year later, I spent five weeks in a clinic to get treatment for my depression. I noticed how the state of my mental health was improving. However, when I got back out, I lost balance once again. Not as bad as I had before, but quite similar.
Finally now, in July 2015, I can say that yes I hit rock bottom last year, but I managed to pull myself out of it. I started eating healthier and I started drinking a lot of water instead of juice or soda like I used to. I have started exercising, I go out to swim or to take long walks with my dog. And I am finally losing some of the weight I gained over those years. I am ready to take on life again, and I know there will be challenges ahead of me. But now I know I can do it. I pulled myself out of a very dark place in my life and I know that I can accomplish so much more.
In closing I want to say, yes, I was scared to admit there was something wrong with my mental health. I was scared to say ‘no I am not okay’ instead of ‘I’m fine’. I was scared of looks and about what other people would say. In the end I know, the stigma attached to mental illness has held me back a lot. But now, I want to share my story so maybe someone in a similar situation can say ‘yes, she got out of that; and I can too’. You’re stronger than you might think in that kind of situation. And I wish someone had told me that when I was down at rock bottom.